Labor and Employment Law Overview: Missouri

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Missouri law prohibits an employer from discriminating and retaliating against employees in a variety of protected classes. Employers must also provide equal pay and protect whistleblowers. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Missouri permits, but limits, preemployment drug and alcohol testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • In Missouri, there are requirements relating to the minimum wage, overtime and child labor. See Wage and Hour.
  • Missouri has laws that relate to employee pay and benefits, including health care continuation, pay frequency, pay statements, wage deductions and wage notice requirements. See Pay and Benefits.
  • Under Missouri law, employees are entitled to certain leaves or time off, including voting leave, jury duty leave, crime victim leave, emergency responder leave, military leave and Civil Air Patrol leave. See Time Off and Leaves of Absence.
  • Missouri prohibits smoking in the workplace and allows employers to prohibit weapons in the workplace. See Health and Safety.
  • When employment ends, Missouri employers must comply with applicable final pay and job reference requirements. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Missouri

Missouri has laws that provide greater protections to employees than federal law, including a higher minimum wage and health care continuation coverage obligations for smaller employers, but generally follows federal law with respect to topics such as preemployment background checks and military leave.

Select Missouri employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Missouri requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Fair Employment Practices

The Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA) applies to private employers with six or more employees and prohibits discrimination based on protected characteristics, such as:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Ancestry;
  • National origin;
  • Religion;
  • Disability (physical or mental);
  • Age (40-69 years of age); and
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth and related disabilities).

Harassment on the basis of these factors is also a form of discrimination prohibited under the MHRA.

It is also unlawful for a Missouri employer to aid or abet prohibited discrimination, or to retaliate against an employee who opposes unlawful discrimination, files a complaint or assists in an investigation or proceeding under the MHRA.

Under the MHRA, a Missouri employer has an affirmative duty to make reasonable accommodations to the known limitations of an employee or applicant with a disability.

Equal Pay

Missouri's equal pay law prohibits an employer from paying female employees less than male employees in the same establishment for the same quantity and quality of the same classification of work, unless pay is based on seniority, length of service, ability, skill, difference in duties performed or shift or hours work, lifting restrictions or factors other than sex.

Whistleblower Protections

The Whistleblower's Protection Act prohibits an employer with six or more employees from terminating an employee because he or she has:

  • Reported an unlawful act by the employer to a governmental or law enforcement agency, an officer of the employer, the employee's supervisor or an HR representative;
  • Reported to the employer serious misconduct by the employer that violates a clear mandate or public policy; or
  • Refused to carry out a directive issued by the employer that, if completed, would be a violation of the law.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Missouri can be found in the Missouri Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Missouri, EEO - Discrimination: Missouri, EEO - Harassment: Missouri, EEO - Retaliation: Missouri, Employee Discipline: Missouri, Missouri Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Missouri? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal, EEO - Retaliation: Federal and Employee Discipline: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Under Missouri law, preemployment drug and alcohol testing is generally permitted, but only after a conditional job offer is made and if all applicants for the same job are tested.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Missouri can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Missouri and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Missouri? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Missouri requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

Missouri's minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage. Currently, the state minimum wage is $7.85 per hour, with certain exceptions. On January 1 of each year, Missouri's minimum wage is adjusted for inflation by the percentage increase or decrease in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) during the 12 months preceding the previous July, rounded to the nearest five cents.

Overtime

Missouri law generally requires an employer to pay covered employees overtime at a rate of one and one-half times the regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. However, employees of seasonal and recreational establishments must be paid overtime for all hours worked in excess of 52 hours in a workweek.

Child Labor

Child labor laws in Missouri restrict the occupations in which minors may be employed and the number of hours and times during which they may work.

Minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from working in any occupation or place of employment that endangers their health or morals, including, but not limited to:

  • Operation of any power-driven machinery or motor vehicle;
  • Occupations involving exposure to radiation or toxic chemicals;
  • Oiling, cleaning, maintaining or washing machinery;
  • Working on ladders or scaffolding;
  • Stone cutting or polishing, except in the jewelry business;
  • Work in or about a motel, resort, hotel or where sleeping accommodations are furnished except in offices or locations physically separated from the sleeping accommodations; and
  • Work in any establishment in which alcohol is manufactured, bottled, stored or sold for consumption, except in establishments where at least 50 percent of the gross sales consist of goods, merchandise or commodities other than alcoholic beverages.

Minors under 16 years of age may not work:

  • More than three hours a day on a school day;
  • More than eight hours a day on a nonschool day;
  • More than six days a week;
  • More than 40 hours a week;
  • Before 7:00 a.m.;
  • After 7:00 p.m. from Labor Day until June 1; and
  • After 9:00 p.m. from June 1 until Labor Day.

Minors working in the entertainment industry must be provided:

  • A 15-minute rest break after every two hours of continuous work;
  • A 30- to 60-minute meal break if working longer than five and one-half hours; and
  • A full 12-hour rest break between the end of the workday and the start of the next workday.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Missouri can be found in Minimum Wage: Missouri, Overtime: Missouri, Child Labor: Missouri, Missouri Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Missouri? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal and Child Labor: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Missouri requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Health Care Continuation

Missouri law requires group health policies issued to employers with two to 19 employees to include health care continuation coverage. The qualifying events and length of coverage under Missouri law are the same as under the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).

Payment of Wages

A Missouri employer generally may pay employees' wages in cash or by check, draft or other voucher.

Pay Frequency

Nonexempt employees must generally be paid at least on a semimonthly basis and no later than 16 days after the close of each payroll period. Exempt employees may be paid on a monthly basis.

In addition, a Missouri employer must pay employees on or before the 15th day of each month the full amount of all wages earned before the first day of that month. If wages are not paid on time, the employer must also pay interest of six percent on the wages due.

Pay Statements

At least once a month, a Missouri employer is required to provide employees with a written statement displaying the total amount of wage deductions for that period.

Wage Deductions

A Missouri employer may make deductions from employees' wages for the fair market value of meals, lodging and other goods and services as a credit toward the payment of the minimum wage provided that the employee voluntarily received them for his or her personal benefit.

Deductions for health insurance provided by a cafeteria plan under § 125 of the Internal Revenue Code are also permitted.

An employer is prohibited from deducting certain items from an employee's wages, including:

  • Tools and equipment;
  • Uniforms;
  • Maintenance of tools, equipment or uniforms;
  • Breakage or loss of tools, equipment or uniforms; and
  • Employer-provided transportation.

Wage Notices

A Missouri employer must give employees who will be affected by a wage reduction at least 30 days' advance notice. The employer may post the notice in a conspicuous place where the affected employees work or mail a copy of the notice to each affected employee.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Missouri can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Missouri, Payment of Wages: Missouri, Missouri Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Missouri? Federal requirements can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal and Payment of Wages: Federal.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Missouri has several laws relating to required time off and leaves of absence for employees. These laws include:

  • Voting leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Crime victim leave;
  • Emergency responder leave;
  • Military leave; and
  • Civil Air Patrol leave (covering employers with 50 or more employees).

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on time off and leave of absence practices in Missouri can be found in the Missouri Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Jury Duty: Missouri, Other Leaves: Missouri, USERRA: Missouri and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Missouri? Federal requirements can be found in Jury Duty: Federal, Other Leaves: Federal and USERRA: Federal.

Health and Safety

Key Missouri requirements impacting health and safety are:

Smoke-Free Workplace

Missouri's Indoor Clean Air Act prohibits smoking in places of employment, but allows an employer to designate a smoking area as long as the area is no more than 30 percent of the entire workplace and there is proper separation of the smoking area through ventilation systems and physical barriers.

An employer must post "No Smoking" signs at all entrances. Signs must also be posted to clearly mark any designated smoking area.

Weapons in the Workplace

Missouri law allows an employer to prohibit employees holding a concealed carry permit from carrying concealed firearms on the employer's property and in vehicles owned by the employer.

If the building or the premises are open to the public, the employer must post signs on or about the premises if carrying a concealed firearm is prohibited.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on health and safety practices in Missouri can be found in the Missouri Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Employee Health: Missouri, Workplace Security: Missouri and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Missouri? Federal requirements can be found in Employee Health: Federal and Workplace Security: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Missouri requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Pay

Terminated employees, whether the termination is voluntary or involuntary, must be paid all wages due on the day of termination. Exceptions apply if an employee is paid primarily by commissions or it is necessary or customary to perform an audit to determine the net amount due.

An employer that fails to make payment within seven days of the due date may be required to pay an additional 60 days of the employee's wages.

References

An employer is immune from civil liability for providing a written response to a written request by a prospective employer about a current or former employee. The employer may provide information about the employee's nature and character of service, duration of employment and the true cause of the employment separation. Employers have no immunity for responses that are false or made with a reckless disregard for the truth.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Missouri can be found in Payment of Wages: Missouri, Employee Communications: Missouri and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Missouri? Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.